Q:

What was the Permian Era environment like compared to the present environment?

A:

Quick Answer

Occurring 299 to 251 million years ago, the Permian Era was a time of great change. The Earth was covered by massive areas of land and water. The landmass was punctuated by dry interior regions with great seasonal fluctuations. Glaciers receded as the interior regions became dryer.

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Full Answer

During the Permian Era the tectonic plates were fused into a super continent known as Pangea. The rest of the Earth was occupied by an ocean called Panthalassa. Sea level fluctuations resulted in the deposition of various types of rock that were recorded in the rock layers. Fossil records indicate numerous sponge and coral reefs. Mollusks, echinoderms and brachiopods were abundant.

The first seed bearing plants appeared on land during this period as giant swamps began to dry out. These were gymnosperms similar to the conifers and short palms that exist today. Arthropods, amphibians and reptiles roamed the Earth. The reptiles were cold-blooded and had very small brains. Toward the end of the Permian ancestors of the Triassic Era dinosaurs began to appear.

The Permian Period ended with a massive extinction. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of marine life and 70 percent of all land animals became extinct. This extinction cleared the way for other life to develop.

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